ATTENTION: I am now writing over here at wordpress! Please come join me! There is tons of new content I would love for you to read and comment on!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

I miss my Person!

Her doing what she did all day - preparing for homecoming and me doing what I did all day - taking pictures of homecoming!
She is in Fargo, North Dakota (yeah, let's hope it doesn't end up like it did for all those folks in the movie). She is staying there with her family while her husband moves everything to CA. Hopefully Gabe and I will be living there in 3 weeks when she gets there. But there is really no telling with the Army. At least we know his paper work is on the move. Anyway, it stinks not having her here. Though during the deployment she was in Fargo (golly, every time I say it I think of murder - thanks, Coen brothers) for... I think 9 months? Anyway, I miss her! And Ayden! But I'm glad that she doesn't have to deal with moving again. And a few weeks is a small price to pay to have her in California with me. It's such a huge blessing - God is so good! It really, truly is a dream come true - and not just for me, but for Gabe, Beth, Levi and probably Ayden and the dogs though they are much less vocal. But she has always loved CA and of course we have gained a much better appreciation for it since we left... I think that Beth and I will both probably consider ourselves, at least in part, honorary North Carolinians for the rest of our lives. It's funny how things come full circle like that. We hated it with a deep and burning passion when we first got here - when it was the place we had to say goodbye to our husbands (and by extension, our worlds) in. But now that it is the place we felt most secure, the place we embraced our husbands back into there is a real tender love for NC. Even with the artillery and Army protocol and the street systems that almost requires you to get into an accident, this place is still very near and dear to our hearts. We both built our new lives here when we were newlywed. We both learned what real love and marriage are about here. We both found people here that captured our hearts. We both explored new levels in our walks with the Lord here. We've both felt the deepest pain and the most glorious joy right here in North Carolina. So, Beth, I know why it's hard for you to leave it... It's hard for me, too. And along with all of these things, Beth and I became friends here and, for me at least, life changed. :-)



I miss you, Person! But I'm glad I didn't have to say goodbye to you for good.



Ok, Army! Let us go now so we can be WESTWARD BOUND!


Photobucket
I have been playing Oregon Trail on my phone so... I'm feeling like a pioneer. And I got to Oregon without killing anyone... I'm pretty excited about that.

Monday, September 22, 2008

There is a reason it won so many Emmys!

Gabe and I have been watching this miniseries, John Adams which (as you may have already figured out) details our second president's life - from his time as an attorney before the Revolutionary War to the end of his life. It is truly remarkable to see these iconic figures brought to life. The DVDs have this nifty feature, too. If you choose to use it you will see historical facts pop up in accordance with the show. It seems that the creators of this miniseries took great care to honor history... a refreshing change from the Hollywood productions we are usually fed. I have been brought to tears numerous times by learning how it was for our forefathers and what they believed so deeply. They faced death by hanging on the charge of treason because they demanded to be treated fairly (in fact it wasn't their intent to start a new country at first; only civility). It not only makes me so proud of my country and so grateful to have been born a citizen to it, but the exposure also causes me to grieve for the precious liberties we abuse and, to our great detriment, ignore. The whole reason we have this country is because a group of people felt that they were endowed with basic rights as human beings created by a loving God. The Declaration of Independence wasn't drafted for a nation, but for it's people. Thomas Jefferson believed that each individual person living on the planet deserved the right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" among other freedoms... So too do we deserve them. When I see small freedoms taken away it hurts me the way it hurts a child betrayed by her parents. I read the Declaration and realize a profound truth: our government is not to rule us, but to ensure that we are fully taking advantage of the rights that no one but God can grant. If you have not seen this miniseries I highly suggest you watch it (and, for that matter, I suggest reading at least the Declaration of Independence - the Constitution is more difficult though so I am trying to find some commentary). It will remind you why it is so important to not stick with the status quo; why exactly you feel so full of pride when you hear the national anthem. We have been given (and I do mean given in the purest sense of the word as we have done virtually nothing to secure the liberties stained with our ancestors blood) a beautiful, unique and priceless gift. We have to do nothing but protect what has already been laid out for us. Unlike those brave men (and the women who held down the homefront) we do not have to fight a brutal war against a powerful nation. We have only to stand up to the evils which insist on taking away even the smallest of our liberties. Why do we refuse to stand up for our rights? Our rights to privacy, to assembly, to free speech, to due process, to bear arms... when these things are threatened why are we so slow to defend them? The work has been done for us... Ashamed, I wonder whether or not we are worthy of the lives we have cost.
This was the accepted National Anthem until 1931 when the Star Spangled Banner became the official anthem... I think that Hail, Columbia encompasses more of America's spirit...
Hail Columbia, happy land!
Hail, ye heroes, heav'n-born band,
Who fought and bled in freedom's cause,
Who fought and bled in freedom's cause,
And when the storm of war was gone
Enjoy'd the peace your valor won.
Let independence be our boast,
Ever mindful what it cost;
Ever grateful for the prize,
Let its altar reach the skies.
Chorus
Firm, united let us be,
Rallying round our liberty,
As a band of brothers joined,
Peace and safety we shall find.
Immortal patriots, rise once more,
Defend your rights, defend your shore!
Let no rude foe, with impious hand,
Let no rude foe, with impious hand,
Invade the shrine where sacred lies
Of toil and blood, the well-earned prize,
While off'ring peace, sincere and just,
In Heaven's we place a manly trust,
That truth and justice will prevail,
And every scheme of bondage fail.
Chorus
Firm, united let us be,
Rallying round our liberty,
As a band of brothers joined,
Peace and safety we shall find.
Behold the chief who now commands,
Once more to serve his country stands.
The rock on which the storm will break,
The rock on which the storm will break,
But armed in virtue, firm, and true,
His hopes are fixed on Heav'n and you.
When hope was sinking in dismay,
When glooms obscured Columbia's day,
His steady mind, from changes free,
Resolved on death or liberty.
Chorus
Firm, united let us be,
Rallying round our liberty,
As a band of brothers joined,
Peace and safety we shall find.
Sound, sound the trump of fame,
Let Washington's great fame
Ring through the world with loud applause,
Ring through the world with loud applause,
Let ev'ry clime to freedom dear,
Listen with a joyful ear,
With equal skill, with God-like pow'r
He governs in the fearful hour
Of horrid war, or guides with ease
The happier time of honest peace.
Chorus
Firm, united let us be,
Rallying round our liberty,
As a band of brothers joined,
Peace and safety we shall find.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Our Hot Date

Gabe and I haven't had a real date in a very, very long time so he took me out to dinner and a movie! We saw "The Family That Preys" by the way and it was terrific. Gabe said it was Tyler Perry's best - and we love Tyler Perry. :-) Anyway, here are some pictures!


Awww... My Stud!

Cheesy.

Kisses for my hubby!

I love him so much... And he lets me bug him when he's getting ready. hehe

His Margarita - yuck! :-P

He was telling a story which he thought was just absolutely hilarious.... He's adorable.

My leftovers. It wouldn't be a date if I didn't have leftovers.

Waiting for our movie to start....

My turn!

Almost 3 years and going strong! I am truly the most blessed woman on the planet. Gabriel is awesome!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Auntie K, Uncle Gabe... and Cousin Sam!

So yesterday I got a notice from the management office about something that had happened on the property of our apartment complex.... anyway, I was quite shaken and so my dear Person, Beth came and picked me and Sammy up. Winston, the Balls' little daschund mix, is Sam's boyfriend so it was nice for them to have time together. It was a lot of fun hanging out at their place with the Beast and so I took pictures! Ayden doesn't get to see Samson nearly enough. :-)



Beth loving on Samson and Winston trying to get in on the action.



















Me with my baby and Winston the tooth-cleaner...














Ayden stacked blocks on him and Samson just layed there.... I think he'll be good with kids afterall.














Auntie K trying to make Ayden take a picture...
















Just happened to take a picture at the right moment! The BEAST! And of course.... Winston licking his teeth....






















My good old fashioned loverboy.










Ayden playing/eating under Sam's watchful.... ears.













Kissing my awesome dog.



















Levi got attached to Samson, too.

















Our Walk....
Ayden needed to sleep....



Our studmuffins walking our animals. Or is it the other way around? :-P


The little mini-toad! It peed on Gabe.


I'll miss you, North Carolina.


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

It's beginning to look a lot like Autumn...

Yesterday was the first day that it felt like fall here in North Carolina. I was quite surprised as I walked out my front door and felt a chill rather than the dense humidity which regularly characterizes a rainy day here. Gabe was at work and all I had to do was clean the house so I opened a few windows (though not too much because the Beast likes to jump through them and break screens... I have become an expert screen-maker. I really could charge people for it and make a living) to hear the rain play with the roof and the drains. It seemed to be in a jovial mood yesterday... So I had that melody and I coupled it with the classical station which comes in just as clear as can be in the house - it was a really marvelous few hours! I couldn't be more content - unless of course Gabe were home to enjoy it with me. Samson and I went about our business calmly and happily. What a wonderful day!

To mark the first real day of Autumn (in my mind that is - I'm not sure when it starts on the calendar) I took a few pictures. They are of the forest which I see everyday out all but one window. I love living here so much. I'll miss my friendly forest.






Tuesday, September 16, 2008

An Average Day for Me

So you've probably gathered that we're pretty close to the Balls. Here are a few videos of the dude I took the other day. And a few pictures I took because I felt like it. An average day for me. :-)

video


video

Ok, this next one may seem kind of mean, but he was in one of those moods where every little thing made him angry so the only thing we could really do was laugh. He was teething so it was a rough day.



video







Getting Out

Alright, so a while ago, before Gabe came home, I wrote a list of some things I was looking forward to with his return. I love making lists. In fact, if I could be a professional list-maker, I would definitely do it 40 hours a week. Now that he is home and we are anticipating his separation from the Army, I am thinking of the things I will be glad to say goodbye to. Some people love the military life and that's fine for them, but Gabe and I were definitely not meant to live this life until retirement. So there are aspects of it that we will say "Good Riddance" to (and a few we will miss).

I will be glad to say goodbye to...

...14 hour work days in which my husband does nothing even remotely related to his MOS.
...field training.
...mandatory fun days.
...smelly ACUs.
...CQ.
...getting calls at 3am because some idiot soldier got a DUI and his entire company has to go in and get smoked (which I can assure you is not just a stern lecture - I don't know what all they do, but I saw them carry logs).
...having large sums of money missing from random paychecks because the Army "made a small mistake" that leaves us with $100 for 2 weeks.
...being teased with a 4-day only to have it taken away.
...having to get permission to go out of town on the weekend.
...having to miss out on get-togethers with family or friends because the Army won't give us leave.
...being owned by the government (or, at least, being married to government property).
...saying hello and goodbye to so many friends because of frequent moves.
...being labeled "Anti-American" simply because we disagree with things the Army and government is doing; as if a soldier is allowed no moral stand on what he sees.
...deployments, of course.

I'll be sad to say goodbye to...

...Gabe's uniform - he looks good.
...marriage retreats every year paid for by the Army.
...the people we are going to have to leave. I'll miss them most of all.

Outside of the Army, there are many things we'll be sad to leave and many things we'll be glad to leave... We've made a home here and it will be very odd to go back to California. But we're excited for it. Soon we'll get a date... God has taken us this far and we know He'll deliver. I'm getting anxious, but I know that He's got a plan and that we just have to trust Him. Jehovah-jireh!

Friday, September 12, 2008

It's Patriot Day...

...which really means it's the day that radically changed our country seven years ago. And thousands of innocent Americans who, as normal working people that day, had nothing to do with the government or world politics or anything religious lost their lives. We all remember where we were when we heard the news and we all remember how scary and chaotic things were those first few days. Now I don't know why they call it Patriot Day, but to me it reflects how unified we became because of 9/11. And it had nothing to do with our political parties or our thoughts on gay marriage or the economy. For a few months everybody let go of the animosity and just helped each other sort through the tragedy. If you are too young to really remember how things were, I'm sorry.... it was really beautiful. "Patriotism" didn't mean agreeing with the president as it seems to mean today. It meant loving your country and its people and being supportive of your fellow citizens who had been directly affected by the attacks. I wish we could go back to that simpler time. I wish we could remember how to see past party lines and opinions on policy. It's so cliche I know, but I really wish we could remember how to love each other even if we disagree.

Today is a very painful day for a lot of families who lost their loved ones on September 11, 2001. I pray that God brings them peace and comfort today and every day...

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Thunderstorms


As I lay here in bed at 6:45 AM, with Samson the beast crowding up the bed in the most inconvenient way possible, I am also silently lamenting the upcoming loss of the thunderstorms of the south - like this one which caused my dog to wake me up an hour ago by jumping on the bed and uncharacteristically snuggling very close to me in fear. There were some pretty big booms - one that even made me jump as it was accomponied by a lightening strike and also reset the power in the house.... must have been right on top of us.

Samson will be glad to be rid of these common storms, but they will be sorely missed by his mom. I hate the muggy-ness (which is basically when the humidity gets severe enough to inhibit your breathing) that usually follows or precedes a storm here, but I absolutely love the rain and the lightening and the thunder! In California we get fun storms, but not nearly as often. The storms we have are almost always in the winter when it's cold - which I really enjoy. Because of that I've disregarded the actual weather and tried turning on the heater during a storm - even if it's already 88 degrees outside. Gabe said he's felt that compulsion as well (only I guess he's not as impractical as I am). It will be so nice to have those fall/winter storms that last all day long and make hot chocolate taste even better.

Also, Hanna did hit NC, but it really didn't affect us very much at all - Gabe and I have both driven through worse storms even in CA. So no worries there. :-)

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Summer Lovin'

What kind of "keep you up to date with us" blog would this be if there were no summer pictures?











We miss you, Zettermans.










At Myrtle Beach - our beloved Rainbow Sandals :-)
















Levi got home so finally we are all together!!
















Summer isn't summer if Gabe doesn't put a beer in a Chicken's butt.










At the House of Blues Murder Mystery Dinner Theater - my second Super Sleuth Award (which is a mug filled with candy). Yay!








My stud.











The big crowd at the beach because there was a little shark.





The silly Smedburgs in their snorkel gear. We love you guys!























Yay for summer!!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Movin' on Up

I am so excited for the move!! I can't wait to do so many things!! A lot of those things include the Balls since they will be in my beautiful homeland and I am so anxious to show them everything I love about it. And I'm so excited to see old friends again. I can't wait to go down to San Diego and see Amanda and Gabe (her Gabe - yes, we both have Gabes) and do all the things we have always talked about doing (and since she always says how wonderful SD is, that will most definitely include the beach which I have never been to in SoCal - so I'm excited for new things too, I guess! lol). And I can't wait to sing with Nicole and Ashawnae until 3 in the morning again. Or go shopping in a REAL mall with my mom. Or surf with my dad. There are just about a million things I am just itching to do!


And I am learning a lot about the moving process. As you know, I have driven across the country (with my awesome brother Kaleb - whom I especially can't wait to hang out with) twice. However, we never actually moved much. Just a TV and some clothes, really. And all we really had to worry about was trying to see through the rear window with stacks of luggage and a smelly beast obstructing the view (I mean Sam, not Kaleb in case you are familiar with K's "after football" aroma which he generally seems very comfortable with). This time we are moving EVERYTHING we own! Levi found out that Penske (for inquiring minds) has the best prices so we are going to use them. I learned about diesel and how 8 mpg is actually a lot (go figure) for a 22' truck. I am learning about the Army's policies on moves and... well, it's going to be an awesome adventure!


I budgeted everything this morning and guess what: I can have my Starbucks! For those of you without the addiction to - er, I mean.... appreciation for the necessary and lovely drink from above which we call "coffee," let me tell you that if I am expected to spend 8 days in the cab of a moving truck with a smelly beast (Sam, not Gabe) and no reclining seat, I WILL have my coffee. Or I will bite my husband's head off and then where will I be? Probably in Georgia because I would only make it that far. So I budgeted for Starbucks. It will save my sanity and Gabe's life. And then he can go on thinking I am the angel that I appear to be when I am happily filled with caffeine.


I also budgeted for hotels though I'm not sure if we are going to use them - I stupidly agreed that I would try sleeping in the car to save money.... Why did I do that? Anyway, we'll see how that goes. I think we are going to try it out before we leave to see how it works and whether or not I can handle it. Gabe could handle it - he could sleep under water if he really had to. I on the other hand cannot even sleep on our double carpeted living room floor without waking up 20 times in the night with back pain. But if it does work it will save us a little money and while we are jobless that is very important.


No official date yet, but we are trusting God and preparing for rain. CA or Bust!


My projected home for a week..... woo-boy.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Loving the New Normal

Ah, what a wonderful life we lead! This whole transition from "deployment mode" to.... whatever you call this. It certainly isn't what it was before the deployment; we really had to start from scratch when he got back. It was messy and confusing.... we had both changed and adapted to the pseudo-marriage we were a part of for so long. We had to re-learn each other and get back to our foundation - thank the Lord that He is our Rock, our foundation and that He provides the ultimate "couples counseling." :-D He's continuing to bless us. We prayed that He would strengthen us and bring us closer to Him and to one another and He is! God answers prayer - don't let anybody tell you different.

So the news is that we are moving to California - as far as we know. Gabe is looking to get out of the Army within the next few weeks and unless we see a burning bush or something we are heading West! The ironic part is that I finally decided I didn't hate North Carolina. But it will be so wonderful to be back in paradise. Gabe is applying to law enforcement agencies throughout CA but we're hoping he works in Monterey County. And the most awesome part about it is that our dear friends the Balls are moving out there, too (Levi is getting out of the Army in October). Beth and I really became family during the deployment and our men have quickly become friends as well - we even had a "family meeting" about what we were all planning on doing post-Army and after that God made it abundantly clear to them that they are going to California! It has been so awesome to see things come together. I am growing increasingly excited about the move. God has taken me from a place of fear and anxiety to joy and excitement - Gabe and I for the first time since this was all talked about are on the same page with regards to our civilian life and it is all because we serve Jehovah.

I'll write more later - we are headed out to blockbuster. :-)

Out of our Nightminds


This is kind of an older post, I wrote it on July 17, 2008 but I didn't post it on here. :-) So here it is.

So my person's husband, Levi, is back from his 13 month deployment to Iraq. He's home. It's over. Through heart wrenching goodbyes, frustrating phone dates, sleepless nights Beth has been strong and been an absolutely incredible mother. She has done something that many women cannot do. She not only stayed faithful to her husband, but she constantly and increasingly adored him, all the while raising their young son.

Today I had a few beautifully surreal moments. I was doing something on my computer with some pictures and I saw my "Homecoming" folder from when Gabe came home in March. And at the same moment I saw the "Levi Homecoming" folder from Tuesday when he came home. My heart warmed seeing both titles. It may seem odd, but "deployment" for me did not fully end until Levi came home to Beth. I didn't realize that until Tuesday. For Beth and I the past 18 months or so have been a journey that we've shared. Before Levi left for Iraq she was taking care of me: hanging out in all her pregnant-ness, cooking for me when I was too depressed to eat, arranging for my lawn to be mowed or my weeds to be pulled... She saw my heart break over and over. I can't imagine what it must have been like to be in her position: seeing your near future right before you. But she was such a good friend to me. She was the only one who really knew the depth of my struggles and she was never too far from me. Her deployment didn't start in June. Her deployment started the hour she decided to befriend me. And my deployment ended Tuesday. So I can't really seperate the two. It was our deployment.

I made some hot dogs on the George Foreman grill for lunch while Gabe was at work today. At the house in Raeford I used to make hot dogs every day because they were easy and they tasted good. When I smelled them cooking I was back in that house. I was all alone, my husband at war, my TV making noise and my person just down the street. I felt, in that moment, young and unsure. I realized that I've grown so much this past year and a half. I've developed a new understanding of love, faith and family. And the road was so wonderful and messy... I wouldn't trade it for anything. It's not easy to say goodbye to any era in your life; even the ones that sting and burn. I'm glad that it is all finally over, but it is just a little bittersweet.

Beth experienced, as I experience sometimes, the unreasonable anxiety that comes over you without warning when you find yourself suddenly whole again. The demon that tells you he isn't really here or that he is leaving you. But that just isn't true now is it? For once we can say that the war doesn't get to have them. We get to keep our hearts inside us and tell the Army to leave us alone. Well done, Person. We made it. And we'll keep "making it" even when it gets hard and we feel unsure. Even when we smell hot dogs and find fear of being left behind.

Well done to any wife of a soldier who has come out the other end of a deployment with her integrity. Something has been accomplished here that goes beyond missions and wars. And for you whose love is still away or close to leaving, you're going to be just fine.

God is so good. All the time.